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Engineering E. coli for Magnetic Control and the Spatial Localization of Functions

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posted on 2020-10-08, 19:46 authored by Mary Aubry, Wei-An Wang, Yohan Guyodo, Eugénia Delacou, Jean-Michel Guigner, Olivier Espeli, Alice Lebreton, François Guyot, Zoher Gueroui
The fast-developing field of synthetic biology enables broad applications of programmed microorganisms including the development of whole-cell biosensors, delivery vehicles for therapeutics, or diagnostic agents. However, the lack of spatial control required for localizing microbial functions could limit their use and induce their dilution leading to ineffective action or dissemination. To overcome this limitation, the integration of magnetic properties into living systems enables a contact-less and orthogonal method for spatiotemporal control. Here, we generated a magnetic-sensing Escherichia coli by driving the formation of iron-rich bodies into bacteria. We found that these bacteria could be spatially controlled by magnetic forces and sustained cell growth and division, by transmitting asymmetrically their magnetic properties to one daughter cell. We combined the spatial control of bacteria with genetically encoded-adhesion properties to achieve the magnetic capture of specific target bacteria as well as the spatial modulation of human cell invasions.